This is Mum.
Mum remembers back to when Biff and Chip were babies.
It was not a fun time.
Biff and Chip cried ALL the time.
So did Mum.
Biff and Chip did not go to sleep.
Neither did Mum.
Mum saw some other mums with their babies.
The other mums had babies which were smiling and cooing instead of screaming so wildly with rage that their faces turned red and they shat themselves. The babies, not the mums, that is.
The other mums had hair that was freshly washed and makeup that was perfectly applied and wore outfits which were accessorised with sparkly necklaces and Coco Mademoiselle, as opposed to wearing a greying pair of leggings and a shirt of their husbands on the grounds that they were the only items of clothing that they were still able to fit into, accessorised with a smear of baby vomit, a dried ring of breastmilk around their nipples, and an aroma of Eau de Shit.
Mum knew that none of those mums could ever possibly have gone home and screamed silently into a cushion and counted down the seconds until the day was going to end and their partner got home and the endless rounds of Competitive Sleep Deprivation began again.
Mum loved Biff and Chip more than she had ever loved anything, ever, but Mum really did not enjoy being a mum very much at all.
Mum knew that she must be a Very Bad Person for feeling like this.
Until one day, things changed.
Biff and Chip started sleeping for more than forty-five minutes in a row.
Dad stopped trying to claim he was more tired than Mum.
Mum met some other mums, mums who were also wearing leggings and old shirts belonging to their husbands, and had massive dark grey circles under their eyes, and had baby poo in their hair.
Mum realised that she wasn’t the only mum who had ever felt like she really wasn’t doing a very good job at being a mum and actually didn’t like it very much at all.
Mum discovered that there are some mums who really love the baby stage, and whose babies sleep through the night from almost the moment they’re born, and who get straight back into their skinny jeans, and have a full face of makeup on every time they leave the house.
But these mums are the minority.
There are far more mums who find having a baby really rather tough.
Who sometimes think, “What the hell have I done?”
Who love their babies more than they can ever describe… but who don’t immediately love parenting.
And Mum has learnt, that for those mums… you will find your time.
You might find the baby days dull and mildly soul-destroying, but love it when your little baby turns into a toddler and starts to talk.
Or you might loathe and abhor the snot encrusted toddler days, as they systematically destroy everything in your home and shout “COCK” at random passers by, but really find your stride in parenting when your child starts school.
Or you might wonder what the hell you have done to deserve another evening sat on the sofa while one child leaches your soul by telling you that “D-O-G” spells “PINEAPPLE” and the other child completely loses their shit over some ludicrous concept called fronted adverbials.
There are even some mums, believe it or not, who really love the teenage years.
These mums are odd.
But the point Mum has discovered is, when it comes to parenting: you will find your time. That time might be from the moment your baby is born, or it might come much, much later. But that doesn’t make you a bad mum. That doesn’t make you someone who is unworthy of having children. It just makes you human.
It has taken Mum a long time to realise this. A long time to stop beating herself up about not immediately being the Perfect Parent as she had always imagined she would be.
The irony is, to her children, Mum has always been the Perfect Parent.
Mum kept her children safe, and warm, and fed them, and loved them.
Which, it turns out, is all our children really need.
Turns out, Mum had been the Perfect Parent all along.
She just hadn’t known it.